Sipher ’83, P’19 on Russia, Truth and Intelligence - Hobart and William Smith Colleges
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Sipher ’83, P’19 on Russia, Truth and Intelligence

In recent articles in the New York Times and The Atlantic, John Sipher ’83, P’19 discusses the dangers that Russian intelligence operations pose to the safety and security of the United States. Sipher, who has served in the C.I.A.’s clandestine service and executive ranks, was stationed in Moscow in the 1990s and served as the Deputy of the C.I.A.’s worldwide Russia program for three years.

In an op-ed in the New York Times, “Don’t Muzzle Former C.I.A. Officers,” he and his co-authors, also former C.I.A. officers, express their dismay over comments by current C.I.A. Director Mike Pompeo and argue for transparent and apolitical national security leadership.

Pompeo “said that agency officers have an obligation to remain quiet about their work for a period that ‘far extends beyond the day you turn in your badge,’” they write. “Even if his ire was trained primarily at specific outspoken former intelligence community leaders, his message to all former C.I.A. officers was clear: Stop speaking out. Our response to him is this: Respectfully, we won’t.”

In the Atlantic article, “Taking Putin’s Word For It,” Sipher and his co-author Ryan Goodman, who served as special counsel to the general counsel of the Department of Defense, address President Donald Trump’s recent acceptance of Putin’s assurance that Russia did not attempt to sway the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

Sipher and Goodman write that “trusting Putin over America’s intelligence professionals is a stinging rebuke to those dedicated public servants who work diligently to provide him with the best information available.”

In the Oct. 31 interview on the International Spy Museum’s “SpyCast” series, Sipher discusses broad goals, strategies and culture of the C.I.A., as well as his long career in the agency, which includes multiple overseas tours as Chief of Station and Deputy Chief of Station in Europe, Asia, Southeast Asia, the Balkans and South Asia.

Sipher retired from the C.I.A. in 2014, having served in the agency’s National Clandestine Service and Senior Intelligence Service. The recipient of the C.I.A.’s Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, he served as a lead instructor in the agency’s training school and as a regular lecturer at its leadership development program. He earned a B.A. from Hobart College and a master’s in international affairs from Columbia University, and has attended a variety of executive level courses at Harvard University, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Aspen Institute and the Intelligence Community’s Executive Leadership program.

Formerly project lead at the McChrystal Group, Sipher recently helped establish CrossLead, Inc., where he serves as director of client services for the company, which develops technology and software tools for corporate leadership and leadership development.

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